Social skills lessons can be one of the most difficult to prep so I wanted to share three easy lessons with props you can grab at Target this summer. I’ll put links to similar Amazon items in the post as well in case you’re a prime lover like me!
From the dollar spot, grab a growing brain and mini walkie talkies. From the toy section grab a mini Stretch Armstrong. There are tons of ways to use these resources, but here are a few ways I envision you starting your year.
Using a “growing brain” is a great way to spend a social skills group. The skills of working together, reading the directions, preparing the warm water, selecting a bowl, measuring the brain, recording observations. Part of the Michelle Garcia Winner, Social Thinking program includes a recommendation for a Jello brain mold. You can see how I did that lesson in this previous post. You can use the growing brain similarly but without having to make a gelatin brain. Begin a discussion about the flexibility of the brain. Throw in some brain facts for kids. I like to tell kids that they have to practice a lot of things in school. They know when they study math, they are teaching their brains something new. Social skills are just like math skills. We have to practice and learn about them! Our brains are flexible and that’s important because we can learn a lot!
This brain from the dollar spot at Target absorbs water pretty slowly. It can keep growing for two weeks if you keep changing out the water! Another analogy – it takes time to grow your brain!
The mini Stretch Armstrong is a great prop to keep around for social skills groups. So many of our students with social communication deficits are very comfortable a conversation about their strengths or preferred interests. They often struggle to maintain a conversation about interests of others. We can focus on the “stretch” within a conversation. When you pull on an arm or a leg, that body part stretches! Then it pops right back into the body. Use this to demonstrate to your students that you can stretch yourself to talk about a different topic for a short time and then return back to the preferred space!
Draw an outline on a blank piece of paper. Have each student write their own interests inside of Stretch’s outline. Then write the interests of others in the group beside each limb. These are the things they will “stretch” to talk about.
These mini Walkie Talkies can be really fun for lots of speech therapy. For social skills, grab anything you have handy that the students can read and separate the two kids. A Cosmic Brownie box will work just great! Read the back of the box to another student in another room. Did they get the message clearly? Was anything interrupted? What happened if there was background/conflicting noise. Talk about what happens when we misinterpret the message from another person. Next, read something with inflection and emphasize the body language. If you just listened on the walkie talkie, what would you miss (body language, tone), that helps you understand the message. Talk through the non-verbals that are critical in understanding another person’s message.
I grabbed all these props at Target but these Amazon (affiliate) links would be an easy way to get them delivered to your door as well!
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